Opinion | Foucault’s Realignment


By Ross Douthat

Opinion Columnist

One of the strange things about the last year in Western political debate is how rarely the name of the departed philosopher Michel Foucault came up — and not for want of opportunity. One of Foucault’s key concepts, “biopolitics,” an account of the way that modern state power involves itself in the biological life of its citizens, was amply illustrated by the various governmental responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. The left-wing academic culture in which his work has long been dominant suddenly found its own influence extending all the way to corporate boardrooms and the halls of the C.I.A. A new volume of his work was published in English: “Confessions of the Flesh,” an exegesis of early Christian sexual morality.

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